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(37 min, Lizard)
TRACK LIST: 1. Banco 5:35 2. Donani 5:30 3. Insauna No-IV 4:47 4. Baltico 5:01 5. Un Grovigio 3:35 6. 15/8 7:36 7. Florakiki 5:01 PERSONNEL: Pedro Beltrani - keyboards; vibraphone Paolo Nicastro - bass; vocals Leonardo Andreoli - sax Fabrizio Lusitani - guitar Michele Tizzone - drums
Prolusion. Lots of debut albums this time around, and "FLORA" by the eponymous Italian band is another one in the series. It's been quite a while since Lizard Records issued their last production, but as I've heard from the label's manager Loris Furlan, they are going to promptly repair that omission.
Analysis. I always experience pleasure when I hear genuinely original music, though it's certainly not because such works set me free from using comparisons. I clearly understand that even relative comparisons can often be useful for the readers, serving as a sort of guide for them, but here is not the case. "Flora" depicts its makers as intelligent freethinkers, whose fully independent approach to composition well matches, in addition, their technical skill. The only exception to this homemade postulate:-) would be the opening track Banco. It starts and unfolds as quite undistinguished Alternative/Post Rock, and only somewhere in its second half the sensitively improvised solos of piano and sax begin at last weaving truly interesting patterns around the (primordially inflexible) axis built by the guitar and bass parts. It was wise of the band to use Banco as an opener. The structural peculiarities of this piece in conjunction with its accessibility make it a really good starting point for comprehending the entire album. First I was a bit surprised to learn that guitarist Fabrizio Lusitani and bassist Paolo Nicastro provide exclusively fixed themes and solos, whereas keyboardist Pedro Beltrani and saxophonist Leonardo Andreoli are as if unable to think about anything else but improvisations, even though many of such are composed. But that was just the band's intention, to create an album where the strictly precise outlines of rock constructions would be surrounded with free (and undercurrent-rich) waters of jazz harmonies - like coral reefs in a sea, in a way. So here we have a really unique variation on Jazz Rock: the two components of the style appear to be fully independent from each other and never really intermix. This successfully founded and carefully elaborated formula directly concerns the other three non-vocal pieces Donani, Florakiki and Insauna No-IV, plus the largely instrumental 15/8, the former two being the most diverse and complicated numbers in the show, which is synonymous to "best" from my viewpoint. Of course, the song-based works of atmospheric Space Fusion, Baltico and Un Grovigio, both display certain digressions from the primary style, which however doesn't mean they aren't interesting. They are, particularly the latter.
Conclusion. "Flora" is a fresh-sounding, varied and quite accomplished album. While the band rarely reaches the level of Jazz Rock/Fusion heroes, such as Brand X, the Mahavishnu Orchestra or Gong, their debut is in many ways outstanding and is positively worthy of attention.
VM: April 5, 2006
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